Miners progressed to the second round of the Conference Challenge Cup with a resounding win over local rivals St Judes. This was a potential banana skin for the Leigh side but in the event they swept the Judes challenge aside with a power-packed attacking display, particularly in the first half when they roared into a 32-0 lead to ensure their passage to another derby in the last sixteen, against Leigh East.
Miners had been hit by injury following the previous weekend’s win over East Hull, but were able to welcome back Steven Grundy at scrum-half in place of Scott O’Brien, whilst Jonny Carroll and Danny Jackson came in to the side. Miners made the perfect start as Danny Jones sent Adam Thomason charging to the line, and although he was held short the defence was stretched, and from the quick play Jones himself took the pass to dive over the whitewash, Jonny Youds adding the first of his seven conversions. Judes might not be a rebuilding side at present but they stick to their rugby principles and they sought a swift response when Dean Hunt sent Craig Bithel striding through with a three-on-one advantage on fullback Youds but a copybook tackle halted the big second-row and forced the knock-on. Miners were in no mood to let up and from their next attack they doubled their lead, Youds chipping over the defensive line and forcing a fumble from Steve King, with Carroll scoring from the repeat set of six. The fluent attacking continued and some fine rugby saw the ball moved left along the line for Lee Gittins to finish out wide and 16-0.
Judes did have a try chalked off when Barry Rothwell was offside in gathering Hunt’s kick and Miners were ruthless with three more scores before the break. First the impressive John Lloyd managed to offload under the sticks and Joe Harrison collected to put Gittins in for his second, then Youds tore down the middle of the pitch from inside his own half, the ball moving wide left to Shaun Marsh and Gittins and finished off by leading scorer Sean Pendlebury for his sixteenth of the campaign. In the final minute of the half Lloyd grabbed a deserved score, the young prop unstoppable close to the line as he charged under the posts.
Just three minutes into the second half and Miners extended their lead still further, Carroll picking up Hunt’s ambitious wide pass inside his own thirty and then ostrich-stepping his way past the chasing defence and finishing with a fine hand-off to score a tremendous solo effort. Miners then went into something of a lull and Judes showed they still had plenty of heart and a bit of finishing class of their own, King taking the ball from a scrum in the Miners twenty and showing great acceleration to burst through out wide. Within five minutes and the Wigan side doubled their tally, Miners losing possession on half way and the ball moved left for young winger Gareth Thomas to finish off. However Miners finished strongly and two more tries brought up the half century. Gittins was the architect of both, the centre showing his class to tear through the right channel of the Judes defence and with options in support he first put Martin Lewis in for a try and then repeated the trick this time for Lloyd to grab his second.
St Judes – Barry Rothwell, Gareth Thomas, Dave Carney, Steve King, Scott Robinson, Tommy Parkinson, Dean Hunt, Martin Riley, Mick Whittle, Sean O’Grady, Craig Bithel, Tom Owen, Danny Claton Subs – Andy Riley, Craig Hunt, Ryan Ainscough, Luke Belshaw
Tries – King (54) Thomas (58)
MoM – Steve King
Miners – Jonny Youds, Sean Pendlebury, Lee Gittins, Adam Thomason, Jonny Carroll, Martin Lewis, Steven Grundy, Kevin Howells, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Danny Jackson, Shaun Marsh, Danny Jones Subs – Joe Harrison, Craig Connor, John Lloyd, Liam Coleman
Tries – Jones (3), Carroll (11, 43), Gittins (18, 26), Pendlebury (29), Lloyd (39, 74), Lewis (68)
Goals – Youds 7
MoM – Lee Gittins
Referee – Chris Campbell